Priest and EMHC

Hello all!

I’m still going through RCIA, but I never was fond with the idea of EMHC in the first place. Is the Priest allowed to discontinue the service of the EMHC? Does he have that ability?

Thanks in advance.

In Pax Christi
Andrew

The answer is that he does, indeed, have that authority. Since an EMHC is supposed to be used only when there is need the priest can simply determine that there is never a need. The only caveat to this is that if his bishop has mandated communion under both species at Mass, it’s very difficult for a priest (or even a priest and deacon) to do this if the crowd is large.

In my Melkite parish the priest and I spend about 15-20 minutes giving communion to around 200 people (part of that is that it is a longer formula than the Latin Church). In my Latin parish we have about 500 people at each Mass, and have four stations for the Blessed Sacrament and four to six stations for the Precious Blood. We have three priests (one elderly) and two deacons (me for the English community and another for the Hispanic community). We could not do it without the help of the EMHCs because our Latin bishop has mandated communion under both species.

Deacon Ed

There are certainly no requirements that make the parish use EMHCs. It is up to the pastor alone. The Redemptionis Sacramentum does not encourage the use of EMHCs at all. It says:

[157.] If there is usually present a sufficient number of sacred ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not be appointed. Indeed, in such circumstances, those who may have already been appointed to this ministry should not exercise it. The practice of those Priests is reprobated who, even though present at the celebration, abstain from distributing Communion and hand this function over to laypersons.[258]

[158.] Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking, when the Priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged.[259] This, however, is to be understood in such a way that a brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason.

I hope this helps. :slight_smile:

Certainly the priest can say “There is no need for an EMHC at Mass today.”

On the other hand, suppose someone has been appointed as an EMHC for a three year period. The priest does not have the authority to declare: “You are no longer an EMHC”. I think that would require a tribunal process, with the punishment for an offence being a loss of office.


How did you arrive to the conclusion that it would require a tribunal. EMHC’s are suppose to be temporary—so how does a tribunal come into the picture.

You are kidding right?

I think what John is referring to is the concept of the “loss of office.” There is a canonical procedure to remove someone from office. However, the function of EMHC is not an office – being a pastor or a bishop is holding an office, being a priest, a deacon or an EMHC does not, in and of itself, mean one holds an office.

If the man were an installed acolyte then, indeed, there would need to be a canonical procedure to deprive him of what is a “permanent” title, just as a priest or deacon would have to go through a canonical procedure to cease being clerics.

In this case, however, since an EMHC serves at the whim/desire of the pastor he can effectively remove all EMHCs if he so desires. He can not, however, remove parocial vicars/curates or deacons since they serve at the command of the bishop!

Deacon Ed

My understanding is that an EMHC is appointed for a term by a bishop, rather than a pastor. From the 2004 Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum:
"[155.] In addition to the ordinary ministers there is the formally instituted acolyte, who by virtue of his institution is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion even outside the celebration of Mass. If, moreover, reasons of real necessity prompt it, another lay member of Christ’s faithful may also be delegated by the diocesan Bishop, in accordance with the norm of law,
[footnote 256: Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 230 § 3. ]
for one occasion or for a specified time, and an appropriate formula of blessing may be used for the occasion. This act of appointment, however, does not necessarily take a liturgical form, nor, if it does take a liturgical form, should it resemble sacred Ordination in any way. Finally, in special cases of an unforeseen nature, permission can be given for a single occasion by the Priest who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist.
[footnote 257: Cf. S. Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction, Immensae caritatis, prooemium: AAS 65 (1973) p. 264; Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter (Motu Proprio), Ministeria quaedam, 15 August 1972: AAS 64 (1972) p. 532; Missale Romanum, Appendix III: Ritus ad deputandum ministrum sacrae Communionis ad actum distribuendae, p. 1253; Congregation for the Clergy et al., Instruction, Ecclesiae de mysterio, Practical Provisions, art. 8 § 1: AAS 89 (1997) p. 871.]"

Takes this senario. A bishop decides to make someone an EMHC for three years. The trainig is done, he writes the document appointing them and conducts the liturgical ceremony to make them an EMHC. The parish priest does not have the authority, on a whim, to reverse this appointment.

I think there would need to be a process, involving the bishop, if a priest decides that a particular person is unsuitable to be an EMHC.

I remember this happening in Australia about 10 years ago. I think Bishop Geoffrey Mayne decided a particular woman was unsuitable for this ministry because of her involvement in an organsiation promoting the ordination of women. But it is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

Seems the operative word here is “delegated” vs. “appointed”.
EMHC’s are delegated a particular task —help the priest for an amt. of time. Their function is depended on the need for their services. If there is no more need to help the priest (the priest determines this) the task is complete—therefore this itself ends their function as EMHC.

RS-2004
"[155.] In addition to the ordinary ministers there is the formally instituted acolyte, who by virtue of his institution is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion even outside the celebration of Mass. If, moreover, reasons of real necessity prompt it, another lay member of Christ’s faithful may also be delegated by the diocesan Bishop, in accordance with the norm of law,

Our bishop has delegated the authority for appointment to the local ordinary. No term limit, or ceremony; however annual training is required.

Being an EMHC is not an ‘office’, but rather a delagation. In addition, no lay person has a right to serve at Mass, so the removal of what was not a Right to begin with cannot correctly be considered a punishment,

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